For the past 2 years, I’ve been making a playlist for each month. I put together the playlist, throughout the month, pulling tracks from my New Music list on Apple Music, my favorite music blogs and sometimes even rereleases of classic material. As Jason Morehead wrote of 2019, I always worry that I’m not going to find the same amount of good music as I did in the previous year.
It’s a silly, completely irrational thought: Shortly after the new year begins, I despair that I’ll find any new music that was as good, beautiful, or evocative as the music I discovered in the previous year. And I’m always wrong. By the year’s end, I’m struck by the amount of incredible music that I’ve heard over the past twelve months, and 2019 was no different.
Since I do my playlists each month, though, I have that feeling at the start of almost every month. To be fair, some months do end up being a little dry, but as Morehead also experiences, by the end of the year, I’ve got a treasure trove of songs.
At the end of 2020, I decided to put together a playlist of the new songs I liked best from my 12 playlists. For me, one of the most satisfying aspects of putting together a playlist is sequencing the tracks in a way that makes sense and flows. This year started out with material that worked well in a linear progression. The dreaminess of the Pet Shop Boys’ “Only The Dark” is perfectly followed by the nighttime drive soundtrack that is Destroyer’s “It Just Doesn’t Happen.” The breathy vocals in Cigarettes After Sex’s “Heavenly” make an appropriate prelude to the low-key noir cover of Paramore’s “All I Wanted,” performed by Bathe Alone.
Of course, as I reflect on the previous year’s musical contributions, I have to start on my January 2021 playlist. Will things start running dry this year? Will the pandemic break the pattern of consistently fresh new songs?
Only time will tell, but I’m hopeful that musicians will continue to find a way to make things work.